‘’I want to live a better life than in this camp’’

Published: Aug 9, 2022 Reading time: 6 minutes
‘’I want to live a better life than in this camp’’
© Foto: People in need

Through eleven years of war, Syrians have endured many hardships, especially children. Many of them do not know about life beyond the tents where their families live. One of the most important things that children lost in this war is their right to education, and the chance to play and enjoy their childhood. PIN is working to tackle this issue and help those affected by the war in Syria.

Some children were born in the beginning of the war and have never gone to school. But some are now uncomfortable with the thought of starting school later in life. “I was too young before the war, and throughout the conflict there were no schools. Now I am too old to be in the first grade,’’ said Mahmoud, a 15-year-old from a refugee camp in northern Syria. 

Many children also left school due to the war. “I do not go to school, I had studied the first and the second grades before we left our village,” said Wafa’a, a teenager from the same camp as Mahmoud. 

Several factors still force children to stay out of school, including the escalation of violence, displacement, the exacerbation of poverty, and the lack of resources to rebuild Syria’s struggling education system. ‘’There is a large group of children, especially girls, who have left school and do not know how to read and write, and some of these girls are divorced, even though they are 16 or 17 years old,’’ said Amani, an education and psychosocial support promoter for PIN.

PIN is working to tackle this issue and help those affected by the war in Syria. In northern Syria, PIN has established child-friendly spaces in the camps for children from 5 to 17 years of age offering social and emotional learning activities, non-formal education lessons (literacy and numeracy skills), and parenting skills session for care providers.


‘’Children at this age need to build many aspects of their personality and enhance their self-confidence, and this is what we have worked on in the past period, in addition to enjoying the activities we offer them,’’ said Amani.

This was an opportunity for children to learn to read and write so that in the future, they could pursue a profession that would help them in life, in addition to recreational activities. It was an opportunity for recreation, enjoyment, a sense of fun and the feeling that they were still children. ‘’This project has achieved its goals in many aspects. Transforming children from being unable to read and write to being very good at these skills, teaching them how to behave in many situations they may face in their lives and making them disciplined is an achievement,’’ said Yasser, an education and psychosocial support promoter for PIN. ‘’We noticed this through the changes in the behavior of the children and the desire of the parents to extend the project for a longer period,’’ said Amani. 

There has been a huge impact on the community through the parenting sessions offered in the child-friendly spaces. ‘’We were discussing important topics about how to deal with children of different ages, and the turnout of parents to attend these sessions was very good,’’ said Amani.

Salha is a 14-year-old girl living in a refugee camp in northern Syria. She had studied in the first grade before her family left their village, but she continued studying in the camp and she had the opportunity to come to the child-friendly space and improve her skills to be better in school and achieve her dream. ‘’I loved the activities in the child-friendly space very much. We were playing and learning many things; the lessons were very useful for our study. My study at school improved and I became a very hardworking student. I want to be a doctor, it is the best profession in our society, and I always want to get the best in everything. I want to live a better life than in this camp,’’ said Salha.

Salha is going to a new secondary school outside of the camp, in the next village. She was worried about creating new friendships but now, she is feeling more positive. ‘’I liked the lesson about making new friends, it was great to use the skills in creating new friendships in the new school,’’ she said.

Wafa’a does not go to school and that was a challenge for her to create friendships and meet her friends. She was very happy to meet her friends and enjoy some time with them. ‘’This was an opportunity for me to get out of the tent and go there to see my friends and enjoy some activities with them in addition to learning to read and write. I like playing badminton, it is very fun. I like to play with other girls,’’ she said. 

Mahmoud, who has never gone to school, had difficulty in creating relations with other children and managing his daily routine. It was a good chance for him to improve his skills. ‘’ I loved the teachers, they were our brothers, we learned to write, read and many things in mathematics and at the same time we were playing and learning things about life and creating good relationships with friends, family and other people. I loved the games we were playing in the learning center which depended on memory and using our senses,’’ he said.

Yasser feels a beautiful and wonderful feeling when he sees the children who did not have the opportunity to play and learn before, but who are now exercising their rights and taking what was stolen from them by the conflict.

‘’What remains firmly in my memory is the joy of the children playing and learning with us here. They have suffered and are still suffering from very difficult living conditions,’’ said Yasser.

Amani believes that the graduation ceremony and the interaction of the children in it and the activities they presented at the ceremony were among the most beautiful memories. ‘’The children were rehearsing these activities and they were very excited for them to be presented and seen by their parents,’’ said Amani. ‘’When we were handing out graduation certificates to children, one of the girls cried because this period is over. She wants it not to end and she wants to keep coming to the child-friendly space,’’ she said.

Thank you to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for its funding. During the last cycle, People in Need supported 1,876 children in six centers in northern Syria and provides children with non-formal education and psychosocial support activities to help them to return to the normal psychological situation and overcome the effects of the war.

Autor: People in need

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